12th Flying Training Wing: Wikis


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12th Flying Training Wing
12th Flying Training Wing.png
Active 1950– present
Country United States
Branch Air Force
Type Training
Part of Air Education and Training Command
Garrison/HQ Randolph Air Force Base
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon.svg Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon.svg Vietnam Service Ribbon.svg
  • World War II
European Campaign (1942–1944)
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign (1944–1945)
  • Vietnam Service (1965–1971)
Decorations Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.svg PUC
Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg AFOUA w/ V Device
GallantryCrossRibbon.jpg RVGC w/ Palm
Colonel Jacqueline D. van Ovost
Lloyd W. Newton

The 12th Flying Training Wing (12th FTW) is a wing of the United States Air Force and the host unit at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. The 12th FTW is under Air Education and Training Command's Nineteenth Air Force.

The Wing's predecessor unit, the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing fought in combat during the Vietnam War. It was the host unit at two major air bases in South Vietnam. Its F-4 Phantom II aircraft flew thousands of combat missions between 1965 and 1971, before being withdrawn from combat as part of the United States drawdown of forces in Southeast Asia.



The mission of the 12th FTW is to provide instructor pilot training in the Raytheon-Beech T-6A Texan II, Cessna T-37 Tweet, the Northrop T-38 Talon and the Beech T-1A Jayhawk jet trainers.

In addition, the wing conducts joint undergraduate navigator training and electronic warfare training in the Boeing T-43A medium-range turbofan jet and introduction to fighter fundamentals in the Northrop AT-38 Talon.

The wing trains Air Force pilots to be flight instructors at Air Education and Training Command’s four undergraduate pilot training bases and conducts Department of Defense undergraduate navigator training for all Air Force and some Navy personnel in three training programs. The wing also trains Air Force, Navy and other military personnel from more than 20 allied countries.


The 12th Flying Training Wing is composed of four groups each with specific functions. The Operations Group controls all flying and airfield operations. The Logistics Group performs contracting, supply and support equipment maintenance. The Mission Support Group has a wide range of responsibilities but a few of its functions are Security, Civil Engineering, Communications, Personnel Management, Logistics, Services and Contracting support. While the Medical Group provides medical and dental care

  • 12th Logistics Group (12 LG)
    • 12th Contracting Squadron (12 CONS)
    • 12th Maintenance Directorate
    • 12th Logistics Readiness Division
  • 12th Mission Support Group (12 MSG)
    • 12th Communications Squadron (12 CS)
    • 12th Security Forces Squadron (12 SFS)
    • 12th Mission Support Squadron (12 MSS)
    • 12th Civil Engineering Division
    • 12th Services Division
  • 12th Medical Group (12 MDG)
    • 12th Aeromedical Squadron (12 AS)
    • 12th Medical Operations Squadron (12 MDOS)
    • 12th Medical Support Squadron (12 MDSS)
    • 12th Dental Squadron (12 DS)

In addition, the 12th FTW provides host-base support to more than 30 Department of Defense units including Headquarters Air Education and Training Command, Air Force Personnel Center, and Air Force Recruiting Service.


See 12th Operations Group for additional history and lineage information


  • Established as 12th Fighter-Escort Wing on October 27, 1950
Activated on November 1, 1950
Redesignated: 12th Strategic Fighter Wing on January 20, 1953
Redesignated: 12 Fighter-Day Wing on July 1, 1957
Inactivated on January 8, 1958
  • Redesignated 12th Tactical Fighter Wing, and activated, on April 17, 1962
Organized on April 25, 1962
Inactivated on November 17, 1971
  • Redesignated 12th Flying Training Wing on March 22, 1972
Activated on May 1, 1972 by redesignation of the 3510th Flying Training Wing


Attached to 7th Air Division, 20 Jul-30 Nov 1951
Attached to 39th Air Division, 18 May-10 Aug 1953; 10 May-7 Aug 1954





  • USAF Navigator: 14 May 1993-Present



  • F-84, 1950-1957
  • KB-29, 1955-1957
  • F-84, 1962-1964
  • F-4, 1964-1970, 1970-1971
  • T-29, 1972-1974
  • T-37, 1972-2007
  • T-38, 1972-Present
  • T-39, 1972-1978, 1990-1991
  • T-41, 1972-1973, 1992-1994
  • T-43, 1992-Present
  • C-21, 1993-1997
  • AT-38, 1993-2002
  • T-1, 1993-Present
  • T-3, 1994-1998
  • T-6, 2000-Present


Strategic Air Command

F-84s of the 12th SFW.

The 12th Fighter Escort Wing was activated at Turner Air Force Base, Georgia, on November 1, 1950 under Captain James Ross and was assigned to the Second Air Force. The new 12th FEW was then relocated to Bergstrom AFB, Texas on December 1 to replace the 27th Fighter Escort Group that had just departed for service in the Korean War. As the 12th FEW expanded, the new personnel were obtained from the men of the 27th FEW and the 31st FEW who were not involved with their previous units deployments.

Operational squadrons were:

On December 12 the 559th Fighter Escort Squadron received their first three Republic F-84E Thunderjets, and would have received a fourth, but it crashed en route from Turner AFB to its refueling stop at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana. The 559th was forced to immediately reject these aircraft as mission capable, as they were fitted with the "solid lobe" J35-A-17B engines which were not deemed robust enough for SAC's extended length missions.

In January 1951 the 559th FES and the 560th FES began sending their pilots to the Matagorda Island Gunnery Range, off the southeastern coast of Texas, for gunnery training. The new 561st did not have any aircraft assigned as yet. The 12th FEG, although managing to keep 80% of their aircraft in commission, was experiencing a high rate of bearing and turbine failures with the J35 engines in their Thunderjets.

On April 27 the 12th FEW made its first very long cross-country (XC) mission in the F-84, to visit the 31st FEW at Turner. On the return leg the following day one F-84 was lost over Louisiana, but its pilot bailed out okay.

On June 7 the 12th FEW started a mission to Patterson AFB, Ohio that would result in one of the worst non-combat incidents in history. Eight F-84s were lost, three pilots were killed, two had major injuries, three were "relatively unharmed".

On July 3 and 4 the 12th FEW transferred forty of F-84Es to Naval Air Station Alameda, California for sea shipment to Korea, and they returned to Bergstrom on aircraft on the night of the 4th. Then, on July 12 all remaining aircraft were transferred across the flightllne to the 27th Fighter Escort Wing that was just returning from Korea.

On July 9 a Warning Order arrived to prepare for a transfer to England. The majority of the 12th FEW's personnel and equip were deployed to RAF Manston, England by July 21. At Manston, they obtained the aircraft of the 31st Fighter Escort Wing that was now headed back to Turner AFB. In England the wing was assigned to SAC's 7th Air Division, the 12th FEW was tasked them with the defense of Norway in addition to their other missions. The squadrons began rotating to Wheelus AB Libya in September for gunnery practice.

In November all of the 12th FEW's assets were turned the 123rd Fighter Bomber Wing at RAF Manston when the activated Air National Guard Wing arrived in England ane the personnel of the 12th were returned to Bergstrom. Upon their return to Bergstrom the 12th FEW picked up a pair of the now antique F-84Ds, and started to reequip with F-84Gs as they became available from Republic.

In April 1953 a new program, Task Force 132.4, was started. By the end of the month the Task Force had thirty-nine officers and 123 airmen as-signed. In June this Detachment and the 561st FES was detached from the 12th FEW and sent to Brookley AFB, Alabama for modifications to their F-84Gs to prepare them for nuclear armament delivery. The Task Force also sent a detachment to Indian Springs AFB, Nevada for atomic tests where they remained for six weeks and then returned to the unit, to be monitored for radiation contamination.

Between May and August 1953 the 12th FEW, now designated as the 12th Strategic Fighter Wing pulled a rotational stint at Misawa Air Base, Japan, relieving the 508th SFW, and being relieved in turn by the 506th S. They would return to Misawa for another tour in the air defense role between May and August 1954.

The 12th FEW, redesignated as the 12th Strategic Fighter Wing, would continue with F-84Gs through 1957, with a partial conversion to F-84Fs, while also gaining the 27th Air Refueling Squadron with KB-29Ps in 1955, which continued until 1957. The Wing was inactivated on January 8, 1958.

By 1957 SAC's jet bombers flew so fast and so high that they were virtually immune from fighters. In addition, the World War II concept of groups of bombers attacking an individual target had been replaced by the use of an individual bomber carrying one nuclear weapon to a target, not a formation of them. In addition, the F-84s simply couldn't keep up with them.

The 12th SFW at Bergstrom was deemed no longer necessary, so the wing was transferred to Tactical Air Command on July 1, 1957 and redesignated as the 12th Fighter-Day Wing. It was inactivated on January 8, 1958.

Tactical Air Command

Upon MacDill AFB's transfer to Tactical Air Command in April 1962, the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing was reactivated by TAC at the base on April 17 and assigned to Ninth Air Force. Initially, it's only operational squadron was the 559th Tactical Fighter Squadron.

The mission of the 12th TFW was to be prepared for tactical worldwide deployments and operations. Until 1964 the wing flew obsolete Republic F-84F Thunderjets reclaimed from the Air National Guard.

In January 1964 the wing was chosen to be the first Air Force combat wing to convert to the new McDonnell-Douglas F-4C Phantom II. It was expanded as follows:

The wing was soon involved in F-4C firepower demonstrations, exercises and, ultimately, the Paris Air Show.

McDonnell F-4C-19-MC Phantom II AF Serial No. 63-7542 of the 557th Tactical Fighter Squadron, (Photo taken at Cam Rahn AB). This aircraft survived the war and eventually was sent to AMARC for scrapping July 12, 1988

The conflict in Southeast Asia was escalating and throughout 1965 the wing supported PACAF Contingency operations by rotating combat squadrons quarterly to Naha AB in the Ryukyu Islands. The 12th began its permanent deployment to the first Air Force expeditionary airfield at Cam Ranh Bay Air Base, South Vietnam on November 6, 1965.

12th TFW Combat squadrons initially scheduled for deployment to Vietnam were the 555th, 557th and 558th TFS. Ultimately, the 559th TFS took the place of the 555th when the squadron was diverted to a second TDY with the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing at Naha Air Base, Okinawa, followed by a re-assignment to the 8th TFW at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. Still later the 555th was assigned to the 432d TRW at Udon Royal Thai Air Force Base.

Vietnam War

Can Ranh Air Base

After the outbreak of the Vietnam War the wing engaged in aerial combat in Southeast Asia beginning on November 19, 1965 – October 21, 1971. The 12th Tactical Fighter Wing was assigned as the host unit at Cam Ranh Bay Air Base on November 8, 1965. The 12 TFW would be the host unit at Cam Ranh Bay AB until the airfield's closure on March 30, 1971.

Operational squadrons of the wing at Cam Ranh were:

  • 43d Tactical Fighter: November 8, 1965 – January 4, 1966 (F-4C)
    (TDY From 15 TFW, MacDill AFB FL)
  • 391st Tactical Fighter: January 26, 1966 – July 22, 1968 (F-4C Tail Code: XD/XT)
    (TDY from 366 TFW, Phan Rang Air Base, aircraft transferred to 558 TFS July 1968 (F-4C Tail Code: XD/XT)
    (Former 391 TFS aircraft reassigned to 475 TFW, Taegu AB, South Korea, July 1968 as Det 1., 558th Tactical Fighter Squadron)
  • 559th Tactical Fighter: January 1, 1966 – March 31, 1970 (F-4C Tail Code: XN)
    (Absorbed aircraft left behind by departing 43 TFS)
McDonnell F-4D-30-MC Phantom II AF Serial No. 66-7531 of the 389 TFS at Phu Cat AB November 1971.

At Cam Ranh Bay the wing carried out close air support, interdiction, and combat air patrol activities over both Vietnams and Laos. Following the capture of the USS Pueblo, the aircraft of the 391 TFS were assigned to the 558 TFS and sent TDY as a detachment to augment the 475 TFW in South Korea.

On March 30, 1970, as part of the Vietnamization process and phase out of the F-4C, fighter operations at Cam Ranh Bay AB were halted and the 12th TFW was deactivated. The 557, 558 and 559 TFS were deactivated in place and the F-4Cs transferred to the Air National Guard.

On March 31, 1970 the 37 TFW at Phu Cat Air Base was re-designated the 12 TFW in a name-only transfer.

Phu Cat Air Base

As a result of the US withdrawals from Vietnam the 37th TFW at Phu Cat AB was inactivated on March 31, 1970. The wing assets remained and were re-designated as the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing when the 12th TFW was moved without personnel or equipment to replace the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing and its units.

Its attached squadrons were:

  • 389th Tactical Fighter: March 31, 1970 – October 15, 1971 (F-4D Tail Code: HB)
  • 480th Tactical Fighter: March 31, 1970 – November 17, 1971 (F-4D Tail Code: HK)

On October 8, 1971, the 389th TFS flew its last scheduled combat sortie in Southeast Asia. On October 15, the 389th TFS was deactivated in place and a name only transfer without equipment and personnel was made of the squadron to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho.

On October 20, 1971, the 480th TFS flew its last combat mission, which was also the last combat sortie for 12th TFW. The final mission was against portions of the Ho Chi Minh trail network in the tri-border area of South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia and consisted of four F-4Ds with 12 MK-82 LD bombs each.

With the departure of the aircraft, the 12th TFW was deactivated in place on November 30, 1971.

Air Training/Air Education and Training Command

Cessna T-37B AF Serial No. 66-7982 of the 12th Flying Training Wing.
Northrop T-38A-70-NO Talon AF Serial No. 67-14846 of the 12th Flying Training Wing.

The 12th replaced, and absorbed resources of, the 3510th Flying Training Wing at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, in May 1972. The wing became responsible for operation and maintenance of Randolph Air Force Base and operation of the USAF Instrument Flight Center. The Center was responsible also for development, testing, and evaluation of flight instruments and flight instrument systems. From May 2, 1973 – November 12, 1976 the wing provided T-37, T-38, and T-39 pilot requalification training for more than 150 USAF ex-prisoners of war. The wing trained instructor pilots for Air Training Command's undergraduate pilot training program wings and for foreign countries under the Joint Security Assistance Program.

Beginning in 1985, the 12th supported the Accelerated Copilot Enrichment program at various operating locations. The unit designed and fabricated F-16 Falcon aircraft simulation training systems for USAF bases and several NATO nations during 1983–1988; after 1986, it undertook similar efforts for the B-1 Lancer bomber program.

Personnel from the 12th deployed from 1991–1992 to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

From 1991, the wing assumed responsibility for initial flight screening for USAF officers enroute to undergraduate pilot training. Historically, this program had been established at Hondo Municipal Airport for USAF officers commissioned through Officer Training School (OTS), since their Air Force Academy and AFROTC counterparts had received similar training through their respective Pilot Indocrination Program (PIP) and Flight Instruction Program (FIP). With the demise of FIP, then PIP, the Hondo program later incorporated officers from these commissioning sources. This program initially utilzed the T-41 Mescalero until 1994 and the T-3 Firefly from 1994 to 1998. When the T-3 was removed from service due to safety concerns following several high-profile mishaps at Hondo and USAFA, the Hondo program was transferred from the 12 FTW to a location in Colorado.

In 1992, due to the impending closure of Mather Air Force Base, California, the 12 FTW also assumed responsibility for undergraduate navigator training from the 323d Flying Training Wing (323 FTW) at Mather when that organization inactivated, with most T-43A aircraft and some of the 323 FTW squadrons reforming at Randolph AFB under the 12 FTW.


PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  • McLaren, David (1998) Republic F-84 Thunderjet, Thunderstreak & Thunderflash: A Photo Chronicle. New York: Schiffer Military/Aviation History, 1998. ISBN 0-7643-0444-5.
  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
  • Martin, Patrick (1994). Tail Code: The Complete History of USAF Tactical Aircraft Tail Code Markings. Schiffer Military Aviation History. ISBN 0887405134.
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947–1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0912799129.
  • Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.

External links


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